‘Guests choose brands they trust with their safety and comfort’

Marriott Hotels India Pvt Ltd’s Market Vice President - West India, Ranju Alex talks to BW HOTELIER about the importance of sustainability in the hospitality industry and her future plans

It was in January 2021 that Ranju Alex took over as the Market Vice President - India for Marriott Hotels India Pvt Ltd. A super-achiever throughout her professional career, Ranju feels a safe environment for fellow workers and guests should be the priority in unprecedented times like these. A health and fitness freak, she loves sports as much as she likes travelling and cooking and is an avid reader. She believes that one needs to foster strong relationships, commit yourself towards service excellence and champion values of development that have a fulfilling purpose in what you do. 

When asked what challenges does she foresee in the region in the wake of two lockdowns and a likely third wave, Ranju says, “The hospitality industry has gone through an extremely hard-hitting time and is now gradually moving towards a slow and cautious recovery. Our industry relies on accurate business and tourist travel for a significant portion of our revenues, and with the region evolving in the vaccination phase, we are in the process of structuring our revival plans to match customer needs and market demand.” 

Though Ranju foresees travellers stepping out with a very cautious mindset, trust, she feels, will be the underlying factor for all travel decisions. “Guests will choose brands they trust with their safety and comfort. Retaining customer goodwill, leading through innovation and curating meaningful experiences will be integral to this revival chapter. This will need to be further supported by reliable manpower management, high adaptability, and skilled dexterity in business operations, ensuring the retrieval methodology is on point,” she puts in. With the looming fear of the third wave, the Group is reinforcing all safety and hygiene protocols while maintaining a renewed focus on contactless and tech-aided experiences.

1. Keep driving the momentum for guests to engage more and more with environmental initiatives 
2. Keep the messaging local for guests to involve themselves with cultural observes of the region
3. Single out usage of plastic, encourage water conservation and utilisation of renewable energy to generate energy savings 
4. Curate distinctive menu’s that showcase a hotel’s commitment towards supporting sustainable ingredients
5. Curb the use of paper in guest areas with recycled materials

With Indians now considering travel post their first vaccination shot, a lot of touristic destinations are emerging and popular getaways are starting to open up, allowing short micro trips that will be the norm moving forward. Talking on her plans to capitalise on such emerging opportunities, Ranju says, “As Covid-19 cases decline across major cities, we are looking forward to seeing a travel rebound which heavily indicates that our hotels across the board will witness higher guest footfalls as compared to a few months back.” But she is quick to add that this comes with equal responsibility as “we will be at the front, leading with accountable operations, meaningful yet limited experiences and contactless technologies that will enable guests to adhere to services digitally. With mobile check-ins, mobile chats and other means of communication, we will be embracing new-age efficiencies every day,” she avers.

Agreeing that Covid-19 crisis has reshaped our world as it continues to spread across the globe in unprecedented waves, the Market Vice President - India for Marriott Hotels opines that the pandemic has created an existential crisis which has compelled us to accept a new normal with each of us trying our best to figure how to work through this crisis. On how does she addresses the concerns of the owners given the existing circumstances, Ranju shares, “We have been fortunate to have owners who understood the signs early on and are in sync to view situations that identify familiar risks. The relationship we maintain with existing avenues are efficient and work towards creative solutions. As responsible and prudent operators, we are constantly rethinking and recalibrating our approach to stabilise flexibility in times that are unsolidified.”

Ranju has always been passionate about women empowerment and advocates it at workplace. Expressing her views on how does she sees the current hospitality landscape for women in terms of opportunities, she says, “Women in hospitality have a considerable responsibility to maintain a balancing act. The upkeep comes with its own challenges. However, it continually motivates efficient potential that is inclusive in nature. From having a good work life balance to a fulfilling personal life, the industry brings in a great range of perspective, expertise, and respect for women overall.” She seems quite optimistic about their future. “If there is passion and determination in everything you do, opportunities automatically come forward with a progressive vision and a centred purpose. All you need to be is curious, fearless, and relentless to let yourself shine,” she puts in.  

On how should hospitality professionals unwind to maintain a healthy work-life balance, Ranju advises, “With an ecosystem of support and an environment that encourages a focussed mindset, fences of any kind can be worked upon with refinement. The flexibilities of having a perfect work-family boundary can be easily attained with a supportive team that relates positively to effectiveness. Whether it is the pandemic or no pandemic, a work-life balance should be maintained even with the little things one likes to do outside of the work spectrum. A break from routine, a shift of focus, time spent with family, friends or nurturing a hobby are vital to keeping one’s self mentally and physically re-energised and motivated.”

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'RESPONSIBLE HOTELIERING ISSUE VOL 7, ISSUE 3'

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